Gillian LynneTheatre, London
Music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin
Book by Ken Ludwig
Directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman
|The company of Crazy For You
Susan Stroman’s Crazy For You was sensational when it opened at Chichester last year. Incredibly, her production has matured with time and on its opening night at the Gilllian Lynne Theatre proves itself as without question the finest musical in town.
This fabulous fusion of the Gershwins’ songs, Stroman’s vision (what that woman can conjure out of rope, pickaxes and corrugated iron defies description!) and a cast led by Charlie Stemp and Carly Anderson creates an evening of flawless musical comedy.
Ken Ludwig’s story, co-created with the late, great Mike Ockrent is a confection of whimsy and fairytale that crisscrosses the United States, defying both rhyme and reason. But fairytales and fantasy are the cornerstones of musical theatre, with Stemp’s Bobby and Anderson’s Polly playing the star-crossed lovers who against all the odds fall for each other, and who are perhaps the most perfectly cast lovers to be found on stage today.
The tunes are the American Songbook’s finest, with classic after classic cascading down from Alan Williams’ loftily perched 17 piece orchestra. Embraceable You, Slap That Bass and But Not For Me are just a handful of the gems on offer, with the jewel in this production’s crown being the first-act closer of I Got Rhythm, which leaves the crowd open-jawed at Stroman’s inspired choreography that reaches new heights with each repeated verse of the song. As at Chichester, the show’s first half ended with a spontaneous standing ovation, such is the overwhelming joy that this show elicits from its audience.
Ludwig’s script is packed with zippy one-liners that all hit the spot - with Tom Edden’s reprisal of his hilarious take on Broadway impresario Bella Zangler proving the evening’s comedy highlight. There’s not a weak link in the cast, with unexpected treats such as Natalie Kassanga’s Naughty Baby defining the depths of talent that Stroman has had to work with.
Beowulf Boritt’s original designs have translated well to the West End and a nod too to Ken Billington’s Broadway-infused lighting, that bathes the production in a rare, rich illumination.
On until January - musical theatre does not get better than this.
Booking until 20th January 2024
Photo credit: Johan Persson